The Four Stages of Alcoholism: Pre, Early, Middle, & Late

It can be difficult for people at this point to believe that they have a way out. They may believe there is no real chance for recovery, or that it would be too painful to attempt. By this point, the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of severe alcohol use symptoms is presenting itself, first to the person using alcohol and then their close circle of friends, family, and coworkers. From the first drink of alcohol, as use grows from experimenting to more frequent consumption, a person enters stage 2 of alcoholism. Get professional help from an online addiction and mental health counselor from BetterHelp. The most severe form of alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens (DTs), characterized by altered mental status and severe autonomic hyperactivity that may lead to cardiovascular collapse.

There are many reasons why someone decides to take their first drink. It could be as simple as a family dinner where wine is being served as a special occasion moment. Maybe the kids come across some beers in a basement refrigerator and curiosity takes over when parents are busy elsewhere. Sometimes, someone may feel out of place at a teen party if they don’t drink like others or a friend pressures them to join in the fun. The affects can range from dementia and intellectual functioning to debilitating conditions that require long-term care, even if a person has been sober for a period of time. It won’t just be a case of halting the destructive behavior; change will be apparent in multiple aspects of their lifestyle.

Substance Abuse Treatment

The most effective treatment for overcoming alcoholism involves a clinically-proven combination of behavioral therapy, medications, and attending support groups. This provides a safe and structured environment for people to address all medical, emotional, and psychological aspects of their drinking for lifelong recovery. There has been extensive research that supports findings that earlier age of alcohol consumption is a contributing factor to a higher frequency of binge drinking and alcohol use disorder later in life. People who are in the first stage of addiction recovery aren’t yet ready for any addiction treatment program. This phase is characterized by defensiveness and endless justification of their behavior.

  • End-stage alcoholism, or late-stage alcoholism, is the final stage of an alcohol use disorder, resulting in serious physical and mental conditions as well as other life consequences from years of alcohol misuse.
  • But it is never too late to find help through alcohol treatment programs.
  • Heavy alcohol consumption has been linked to more than 60 different diseases.

According to the CDC, more than one million people die yearly of cirrhosis, including over 40,000 people in the United States. John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In addition, medications may be able to help ease or stop drinking and guard against relapses.

The Stages of Alcohol Intoxication

If you or a loved one are suffering from alcohol addiction, we’re here to help. Contact us today and speak with one of our trusted recovery advisors. Like all addictions, alcohol addiction is a chronic brain disease which affects the reward-related pathways of the brain. Contact us for a free assessment, 5 stages of alcoholism and allow us to show you how our program can help you lead the life you want, unshackled by addiction and surrounded with love. Alcoholism is the most severe form of problem drinking and can be divided into five stages. What starts as leaning on alcohol can gradually grow into full-blown dependency.

They may use alcohol to relieve stress but also enjoy being high or drunk. Identifying problems with alcohol early can help prevent dependence and addiction. Medical treatment may be necessary to detoxify the body of alcohol and to obtain a fresh start. Since many people with alcoholism endure psychological problems, individual or group therapy may help in overcoming addiction.

Why Should We Be Concerned About AUD and Alcohol Addiction?

Alcoholism is a disease that can take over a person’s life and leave them feeling hopeless. The use of alcohol can drastically modify the way that chemical signals are produced and transmitted in the brain. In addition, addiction to alcohol can change how certain parts of the brain responsible for decision-making, controlling urges, memory, motivation, pleasure, and reward processing are connected. Alcohol can be damaging to a person’s motor skills, reflexes, response time, short-term memory, and capacity to think correctly or logically. Inhibitions are weakened, escalating the risk of engaging in unsafe sexual activities or possibly becoming a victim of crime or violence.

5 stages of alcoholism